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Liberty Holds Off Campbell to Take Game One, 8-6
The Liberty Flames built a 5-0 lead over the first two innings and then held off a rally by the Campbell Fighting Camels for an 8-6 win in game one of a Big South doubleheader, Saturday at Worthington Stadium.
Center fielder Andy Smith drove in four runs with three hits, one his sixth home run, to pace the Flames. First baseman Alex Close belted his fifth home run of the year in the fifth inning.
With the win, Liberty takes the first two games of the series between the teams and moves to 7-1 in the Big South and 27-7 overall. Campbell drops to 25-7.
Smith started the Flames in the bottom of the first inning. After left fielder Ian Parmley beat out an infield single to begin the frame, the center fielder lined a pitch into the right field bullpen, giving Liberty a 2-0 advantage.
The Flames quickly stretched their lead in their next at. Catcher Trey Wimmer singled to open inning and later scored the first run of the three-run frame on a fielding error by Camel second baseman Michael Felton. Smith followed with a run-scoring single and second baseman Byran Aanderud lifted a sacrifice fly to put Liberty in front, 5-0.
Visiting Campbell plated its first run of the afternoon in the top of the third inning. Catcher Ben Fish led off the inning with his first home run of the season, trimming the Liberty advantage to 5-1.
Both teams pushed across runs in the fifth inning. In the top of the fifth, Fish walked to open the frame and scored on a single by Felton. In the bottom of the inning, designated hitter Justin Sizemore doubled with two out and was aboard on Close's home run off the Worthington Stadium scoreboard to make it, 7-2 Liberty.
In the sixth, both teams exchanged single-run stanzas. Left fielder Jimmy Brenneman walked with the bases loaded and two outs to force in a run in the Campbell half of the inning. Liberty answered with a RBI single by Smith for an 8-3 advantage.
The Camels cut into the home team's lead with three runs in the seventh. After Felton reached on an error by Aanderud and designated hitter Jake Kikland singled, third baseman David Olson hit his second home run of the year, slicing the Flames' advantage to 8-6.
In the top of the ninth, Campbell loaded the bases with one out. However, Patrick Bankemper was summoned from the Liberty bullpen and proceeded to retire the next two batters to seal the Flames' victory.
Starter Patrick Eckelbarger moves to 6-0 on the season for Liberty. The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out seven batters and walked four. Bankemper, the last of five Flames to pitch in the game, records his first save of the year. He becomes the eighth Liberty pitcher to record a save this season.
Campbell starter Frank Zier drops to 3-1 on the year. The right-hander gave up seven runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out three batters and walked one.
Liberty had nine hits in the game, while Campbell collected seven. The Flames left only one runner on base in the contest, while their pitchers stranded 11 Camels.